A ghost called Sakaoni means a fairy who is good at making sake. The fairy did not
claim to be Sakaoni. It is a name that has been used for some time among those who knew
There are many reports of the existence of Sakaoni in Japan. For example, the Japanese
Encyclopedic Lexicon of Mysterious Phenomena and relations, edited by Bura Shigeto (1919
-2010), describes the existence of 193 fairies in Japan except for Okinawa. According to
the Lexicon, there are more than 26 folklores similar to Sakaoni in various parts of
Japan, and the way of calling is different depending on the region. The representative ones
are Sakeoni, Sakaoni, Saoni, Shuki, Shusesiki, Shureiki, Sakatamaoni, etc. Bura classifies
these as Sakeoni as one line. Saketengu, shutendoji, Susuikitsune were known as names of
fairy that have relation to sake (Japanese liquor), but these are not fairies who make sake
but names that mean fairy who drinks sake or who protects guardian of Susui shrine. Those
fairies have nothing related to making sake, so that the lexicon classified them as another
kind of fairy.
There seems to be a number of purpose of Sakeoni’s sake, and a number of the way how the
sake appear. Sakeoni, whose existence has been reported in the whole area of Takebe-cho in
Okayama Prefecture, is pouring the sake into Asahigawa. According to the theory of Bura,
it is concluded that Sakeoni in Takebe-cho is just making sake hard in its house, but the
sake flowing out of the barrel results the phenomenon that the water of Asahigawa becomes sake. Why does Sakeon’s sake flow out to Asahigawa?
That’s because the Sakaoni’s home is at the bottom of Lake Asahigawa, upstream of
Asahigawa. Asahigawa Lake is an artificial lake created by the Asahikawa Reservoir (now the
Asahigawa Dam), which was completed in 1815. The area sunk to the bottom of the lake by
the dam construction was once rural. A man who lived in this village, because he loved
rice and making sake on his land, refused to leave the village after the village was submerged.
He sank to the bottom of the lake while making sake. The man’s name was Sachisuke.